Genital hygiene behaviors and practices: A cross-sectional descriptive study among antenatal care attendees
Accepted: 10 July 2018
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The female genital tracts harbor a wide variety of microorganisms’ knowns as microflora mostly constituted by lactobacilli, involved in the healthy state of the vagina without causing infection. Urinary tract infections (UTI) are frequent in pregnant women due to physiological and anatomical changes that occur during pregnancy. These infections can result to disabilities or serious health problems both for the mother and the new-born. Vaginal douching has been reported among risky practices associate with UTIs. However, this remains debatable and contradictory when other studies report the benefit effects of vaginal cleaning in infection prevention. The aim of this study was to assess pregnant women behaviors and practices regarding genital hygiene. This was a cross sectional descriptive study conducted on exhaustive sample of pregnant women coming for antenatal visits in Lafé Sub-divisional Hospital (SDH) and Baleng Catholic Health Center (BCHC) between 16 and 30 September 2013. Data were collected using a paper based standardized questionnaire directly self-administered after obtain a free consent. Overall, 80 pregnant women were enrolled. The majority of them had attended at least primary education (97.5%; n=78/80) and many were lived in couple (81.25%; n=65/80). Almost one on three participants identified antenatal consultation (ANC) as a key element to be taken into account by pregnant women. 70.1% (n=56/80) of women declared wearing undergarments in cotton. Regarding the daily vaginal douching behaviors, the majority (76.3%; n=61/80) of participants used the recommended gynecological measure, while the remaining use self-prescribed measures. Both genital parts (vulva area and vagina) were cleaned and use of water was mostly cited (63.8%; n=51/80). Almost one participant on four (n=29/80) use antiseptic solutions for genital cleaning. Antiseptic solutions were associated with water in 34.5% of cases (n=10/29), and in 65.5% (n=19/29) of cases it was used only for the vagina. Our findings suggest that knowledge and genital hygiene cleaning practices are acceptable among our study population. Risky practices such as use of antiseptic solutions and synthetic underwear’s were reported. Skills of health care providers on good hygiene practices for pregnant should be improved and community-based communication strategies need to be implemented to reach all women of child bearing age.